European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 641–662 | Cite as

Achievement among first-year university students: an integrated and contextualised approach

  • Mikaël De Clercq
  • Benoît Galand
  • Serge Dupont
  • Mariane Frenay


This paper presents a prospective study aimed at identifying the predictors of academic achievement among first-year university students. It tries to develop an inclusive view of academic achievement by taking into account the possible differential impact of several predictors in two different faculties of the university. Some 317 university students from the two faculties (science and physical education), who were in their first year at university, participated in the study. During the academic year, these students completed a questionnaire. The outcome variable was their average academic mark at the end of the year. Multiple regression analyses were performed to identify the most powerful predictors of achievement. The results showed that past school failure, parental education and self-efficacy beliefs predicted achievement in both programs. Age, secondary-school specialisation, reasons for choosing the program, deep processing, time spent studying and intention to persist have also been highlighted as significant predictors of success, but only in one of the two faculties. Self-efficacy was the most powerful predictor of achievement in physical education courses, whereas intention to persist was the most powerful predictor in science. These results show the importance of adopting an integrated and contextualised approach to exploring the predictors of academic achievement at university.


Higher education Academic achievement College students Self-efficacy 



This research was supported by grants from the Louvain Foundation, from the Université catholique de Louvain (FSR) and the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS - FRFC). The authors would like to thank the lecturers and students of the Departments of Physical Education and Science for their support and participation.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media BV 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikaël De Clercq
    • 1
  • Benoît Galand
    • 2
  • Serge Dupont
    • 3
  • Mariane Frenay
    • 2
  1. 1.Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Psychology and EducationUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.Fonds de la recherche scientifique (FNRS)Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium

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